In these days of e-commerce popularity and turning to the internet for any of our most pressing needs, the appearance and functionality of your website is absolutely key. People are so used to high quality browsing and researching online nowadays that the collective tolerance for slow websites is extremely low. Don't be mistaken about the importance of website speed: page load time plays a huge role in whether site visitors will stay on your page or look elsewhere. Unless they need something you alone are specifically offering, internet searchers know there are hundreds of Google pages with results, and are likely to simply keep looking if not satisfied with any aspect of your site.
According to website NeilPatel, the bar for website efficiency is set high, with 47% of users expecting a site to load in a maximum time of two seconds. Once three seconds have passed, a whole 40% of people will backtrack and look to another web page. That does not give you long to impress your visitors, especially if they can't even make it to your content before they run out of patience. Not only would you lose potential customers in the moment, but 79% of people report they would not bother returning to your site after experiencing its slowness. This means a loss in customers and conversions due to all the people who would never see your products.
Clearly, each second counts when regarding website load time. Even one second of holdup on your site can affect your brand as much as losing 7% of conversions, 11% fewer views, and 16% loss of customer satisfaction. So what can you do to ensure your website is running at its top optimal speed?
When asked their advice on the most effective ways to increase website speed, these top business owners and founders offered quality options for reducing downtime and promoting efficiency on your site. Keep reading to learn all the methods you can start looking into to ensure you don't lose web traffic.
Inspect Your Tag Manager
'Have a look at your tag manager. Tag managers help marketing teams add tracking and retargeting data to the site without requiring developers. But tag managers also allow us to change the order and late load (i.e., let the page show first, then load all the assets later in the experience) our precious - and often performance-penalizing - tracking scripts. An easy win is to move all your tags from firing on the 'page view' trigger (as soon as the customer visits the page) to the 'window loaded' trigger (which happens once that page is ready). Tags like Google Analytics, LinkedIn and most retargeting and email tracking tags can all safely load after the page is ready. (Disclosure: My company is a Google Cloud Partner.)
'This simple act of delaying these third-party resources can deliver a 20%-30% performance boost. While you're in the tag manager, it's also a great practice to review and audit each tag. Tracking tags (Heap Analytics, Rakuten, LinkedIn, etc.) all have a performance cost. It's important to look at each tag and see if it's really needed. For analytics tags (especially heat map generating tags!), sampling can be a huge win. Do you really need to capture the heat map for clicks of every user, or would a 10% sample rate suffice? A quick audit each month can help ensure you both minimize the performance impact and keep your customer data in the hands of only the most valuable third parties.'
- Jacob Loveless, CEO of Edgemesh
Don't Forget About Mobile Page Speed
'Since many people use their phones exclusively for web browsing, mobile page speed optimization is very important. Remember, mobile pages are considered separately for SEO results. Your site's mobile pages do not automatically inherit the main site's SEO ranking. Users searching on mobile devices have their page rank calculated separately based on the site's mobile page speed rather than the main website's page speed.
'This means that website owners need to pay just as much attention (if not more) to their mobile site's speed. As the use of mobile search continues to grow at an exponential rate, the consumer demand for information at the blink of an eye also increases. Searchers demand instant gratification, and to deliver that, your mobile website's pages must be optimized.'
- Charles Kim, COO and Co-Founder of Executive Digital.
Invest in Quality Hosting
'When launching a new website people often will choose the cheapest hosting option, which is a shared hosting setup. While this is fine for a startup business with low traffic rates, shared hosting divides resources with other sites sharing the server, so it can lead to slow loading if you receive high visitor levels. So as your audience grows so does the need for your site's hosting to be upgraded. The other options for hosting aside from shared servers are VPS and dedicated server hosting, increasing in price in this order. I recommend any website receiving high traffic and still aiming for more page visits invest in the higher quality, higher priced dedicated server option, as you will not need to share any resources with other sites. This will give you the most space possible and speed up your site's load time. But be aware that the configuration and maintenance will also be solely in your court.'
- Anish Patel, Founder of Tinto Amorio
Cut Unnecessary Site Redirects
'One method to quickly enhance your site's speed is to remove any unnecessary redirects on your site. Because each redirect needs to load as your page does, the more set up on your site the slower your load time. Therefore, when building your website be mindful of redirects and only create the most important ones. If you're not sure how many redirects you currently have, luckily there are various tools and installations that will point out your redirects and offer you insight on which are more necessary than others.'
- Jordan Duran, Founder and Designer of 6 Ice
'You of course want to include images on your website to enhance the quality of your content and showcase your product-most shoppers deem numerous photos of a product absolutely essential for their purchase; but unfortunately images can be one of the worst space thiefs due to their large 'weight', thus increasing your site's loading time. To fix this problem you should compress your images and videos for site optimization. You can do this by manually cropping your images down to their ideal size or you could use a plugin to compress images for you. I recommend the program WP Smush for the way it compresses images but maintains their quality.'
- Alvin Oommen, Founder and CEO of OXFORDhill
Use Technical Tools to Compress Images Easily
'There are many technical tools you can use to compress your images. For instance, if you're creating an image in Adobe Photoshop, you can choose the 'Save for web' option. You could also use programs such as TinyPNG to compress images yourself. This is important to remember as images will be crucial to your website's appeal. Thus, using high-quality images that take up less data will be very beneficial in improving your site's speed.'
- Schuyler Hoversten, Co-Founder and President of BoxScore
Remove Needless Plugins
'Not only do unnecessary plugins decrease site speed but outdated or ineffective plugins can also pose security issues and reduce performance effectiveness. You want to only keep the plugins that are serving your site and the rest can go. There are apps that will detect your current plugin figures so you can more easily understand which are more essential than others. Some plugins are simply not needed because they offer features you can just as easily conduct manually-for example, there are plugins for changing fonts; the extra effort on your part will be worth the improved site speed and higher conversion rate.'
- Matthew Mundt, Founder and CEO of Hug Sleep
Employ a Faster DNS Provider
'Every time a site is searched for on Google or any other search engine, internet providers use DNS servers to locate the correct site through its IP address, which means conversion from a URL to IP address occurs with every search. Therefore, it really matters that you employ a quick loading DNS server. There are charts available online to compare your DNS server with others in terms of speed. Once you understand where your DNS server lies in comparison to others, choosing a faster alternative may be your best option.'
- Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder of Culprit Underwear
Compress Your Files
'My recommendation for speeding your website is to compress your files down to a more manageable size. A quick and easy method for going about reducing file size is using the application Gzip, which locates files on your site and codes them to be reduced in size but not quality. Gzip is widely used by websites across the internet, so it is accessible and effective.'
- Jason Wong, CEO of Building Blocks
Allow Browser Caching
'Browser caching, similar to cookies, stores temporary information about the sites you visit on your hard drive to save time with each revisit to the page. During following visits the information has been previously loaded, but during a user's first visit they need to download a great deal of information about the website, such as files, images, and code. Therefore, allowing browser caching will speed up site loading time. But be aware that caching is not ideal for shared hosting and can lead to the opposite of your goals. If you are using a shared server it may be time to upgrade to something faster in that regard as well, which will then allow caching to be effective.'
- Melanie Bedwell, E-commerce Manager of OLIPOP
Don't Upload Videos Onto Your Site
'Rather than uploading videos directly onto your site, use external hosting, because uploading videos onto your webpages will take up a massive amount of space; and if your goal is to speed up your website's loading time, reducing space is what you want, not the opposite. Instead, you can link videos so that when users click to watch they are hosted by a third party such as YouTube. You can embed the third party video onto your site and avoid the large file size.'
- Jared Hines, Head of Operations of Acre Gold
Now you know some simple but highly effective changes you can make to your website or e-commerce shop in order to reduce loading time and boost customer satisfaction. Remember to always keep checking and maintenancing your website to ensure user experience is up to par. There is nothing worse than a glitchy or unresponsive site, which statistics show will lose you page visitors in an extremely short span of time. These methods should help you see a boost in customer contentment which in turn will raise your conversion rates. Sounds like a win win situation